Tell us a little bit about yourself—school,
background, major, reasons for taking this trip, anything else interesting you
want to share.
|At Jessica's much beloved Opera house. From left to right: Andres, Yvonne,|
Jessica, Rosaura, Rhea, Courtney, Tessa, Kyubo, Amanda
(Photo courtesy: Dorothy Barenscott)
My name is Jessica Hood and I am currently
a third year theatre performance student at Simon Fraser University. The reason
I am a theatre major and the reason why I am on this trip to Paris both stem
from the same story. When I was twelve years old, my father took me and my
family to the San Francisco Orpheum to watch The Phantom of the Opera. I was
immediately engrossed. I went home that night and played the entire original
recording over and over in my bedroom so that I could learn the songs. I knew
from that point on I would be a performer and I would go to Paris. Because the
story still fascinated me in high school (and even today), I chose to research
The Phantom of the Opera by reading the novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux
along with comparing historical events to the fictionalized versions in the
book. After reading about the Opéra Garnier and its construction, I knew I had
to see it in person. Now, I am making these dreams come true. I am a performer,
I am in Paris, and I have seen, and touched the Opera House.
What has met or exceeded your expectations
or surprised you about Paris so far?
Paris is a beautiful city and it is such a
wonder to actually be here. I still have moments where I have to stop and
remind myself that I am here. I have been most surprised by the efficiency and
simplicity of the metro. Getting around this city has not been difficult and I
am doing pretty well, in my opinion. Some of the stations can actually be quite
pretty too when they're not filthy with rat infestation or urine. I am also
surprised at the cost of food. I was expecting it to be very expensive, but
luckily getting groceries has been more reasonably priced than back home in
Vancouver. Sure, eating at restaurants can be pricey, but that's not an every
meal kind of activity. Plus, when I have gone to restaurants to eat, I have
managed to find decent prices and ways to share entrees so as not to be paying
as much. I expected the city to be dirty, filled with cigarette smoke and other
smells, and crowded in the tourist areas. These are all true, but the amount of
each still surprised me nonetheless. I did not expect, however, for there to be
so little green space or for the existing green spaces to be so manicured that
people are not allowed to walk on the grass. Despite these oddities, I am very
much enjoying my time here and the chance to discover this city.
Give us some insight into your assigned art
work from the Muse d’ Orsay. After seeing the work in person, what struck you
most about it and/or how did the art work’s form, content, and context shift
for you when seeing it?
|Jessica, Shannon and Yvonne mastering the Metro system in Paris|
(Photo courtesy: Kyubo Yun)
After waiting in line for about a half
hour, we finally made it to the Musée d'Orsay. Dorothy started leading us to
"something we had to see" and on the way I caught the first glimpse
of my assigned painting - The Laundress by Honoré Daumier (1863). I jumped and
squealed and pointed from excitement. After going through many of the exhibits,
I decided to take a better look at the painting. It was located in the first
room dedicated to Daumier works on the main floor. There were three
caricatures, twenty caricature-like sculptures, and about ten of his paintings.
The second was mine. I was so happy that I could see a lot more of the colours
because the slide photos were so dark that I had no idea they were even there.
Despite the presence of colour, I noticed it was not a very detailed painting.
The faces of the woman and her child are blurry and the background is very
geometric. It made me think that he was depicting an example of the masses, one
pair of nonspecific people to represent all the others like them. I also
wondered if the unevenness of the buildings in the background signified the
demolition of old Paris into the new Haussmannized ones. It was nice to see the
brushstrokes in person. His are even and vertical. I also enjoyed comparing his
painted work to that of his sculptures and caricatures. I started watching
other people's reactions to his work as they entered. Most seemed more excited
by the sculptures, since they were funny. Others seemed completely uninterested
or maybe they were just tired. I think it was probably because they were
excited to see the more well-known and larger pieces on display. For me, and
those who know his work, it was so interesting to see this work I had studied
and that was at the very start of the Impressionist movement.
|Honore Daumier, The Laundress (1863)|
Today’s activity was at the Palace of Versailles. What
were your impressions? What will you take away of the experience?
What, if any are the memorable moments for you?
|View of Versailles gardens from inside Palace|
We went to Versailles today. The palace is
huge and its golden gates shine in the distance. I had always assumed that the
entrance to Versailles was preceded by the gardens, so I was surprised to see
gates and a cobblestone courtyard. I also did not expect it to be surrounded by
a little city, but I suppose that erupted because of tourism. Right as we
entered the courtyard, we had to stand in a massive line to get into the
palace. Forty minutes later, we were inside. It was packed with crowds of
people. With some sections closed off and the rest open through narrow doors
and hallways, it was like we were being herded through the rooms. I was barely
even looking at the decorations while darting through people and being pushed
by others. I was so frustrated that I nearly ran through the rest just so I
could get outside to some open space. Seeing one room was enough to know what
the rest looked like. The Hall of Mirrors was interesting because there were so
many panes, which was so expensive at the time they were purchased, and the
gardens were visible from the windows. More interesting than that was seeing
graffiti on the mirrors. I saw one dated at 1949. It was refreshing to see how
these people had rebelled against the symbol of opulence that the Versailles palace
represents by carving their names into those mirrors. I only saw a part of the
gardens because the entrance was an extra seven euros that I did not want to
pay. I'm sure I would have enjoyed them if it had been included in the ticket
price or if the weather had been nicer. I'm fairly certain that this monument
is my least favourite activity of the trip because it was, in my opinion,
over-rated and extremely over-crowded.
|One of the many chandeliers at the Palace viewed from a more abstract position|